Packers vs. Jaguars: Three things I'll be watching for
For just the fifth time in NFL history, the (4-3) Green Bay Packers will battle the (1-5) Jacksonville Jaguars. Both teams enter the game beat up. The Packers lost safety Charles Woodson for six weeks with a shoulder injury, while the Jaguars will be without all-everything running back, Maurice Jones-Drew. Below are three things that I'll be watching for in today's game:
As I mentioned above, Charles Woodson will not play on Sunday, or for the next several, due to a shoulder injury suffered against the Rams in week seven. What I'll be watching to see is how the Packers organize their personnel to account for Woodson's loss. Casey Hayward seems to be a natural fit to cover the slot receiver, but will he be used to blitz? What about runs downs? I think Hayward will be the slot cover man, and Jerron McMillian will be near the line of scrimmage on run downs, or in a position to blitz. Davon House also figures to see plenty of action. It will be a youth movement to replace a future hall of famer.
Rodgers' Hot Target
Wide receiver Greg Jennings is out again, and it's likely that Jordy Nelson will be sidelined with a hamstring injury. That leaves Randall Cobb, James Jones, Donald Driver and Jarrett Boykin as the only healthy wide receivers for Aaron Rodgers to throw to. Cobb has earned the trust of Rodgers and has become quite a weapon in the Packers deep arsenal. I expect him to have a strong showing against the Jaguars. But what I'll be watching to see is how much Driver and Boykin are called upon. Both are at completely different stages of their career, and both are far down the line on the Packers wide receiving depth chart. One thing is for certain - the crowd at Lambeau would love nothing more that Driver to be targeted often, and find the endzone.
Second year quarterback Blaine Gabbert has struggled on a bad Jaguars team. Complicating matters is that he tore the labrum in his non throwing shoulder in week seven, but is expected to play Sunday against the Packers. What I'll be watching to see is how long Gabbert can last. I think the Jaguars are one Gabbert sack away from calling on veteran Chad Henne. Henne might be a better option for the Jaguars, but Gabbert is the young high-draft choice the Jags have sunk a lot of money in to.